Drives and Controls Magazine
Codesys PC handles PLC functions and up to 64 motion axes
Published:  22 March, 2021

The Taiwanese automation supplier Delta Electronics has announced a Codesys-based multi-core industrial PC that can control up to 64 motion axes via an embedded EtherCat interface. The AX-8 series PC allows PLC, motion control and Windows OS functions to operate simultaneously without affecting each other’s performance.

The compact (54.2 × 141 × 137.5mm), fan-less PC is equipped with the Windows 10 IoT operating system and an Intel J1900 quad-core processor. Interfaces include: three 1Gbps Ethernet ports; four USB ports; an HDMI port; and an SD card slot for extra memory to back up data. Push-in connectors give easy access to the power supply and additional I/O ports, including 16 digital inputs and outputs, incremental and SSI encoder interfaces, and an RS-422/485 serial port.

Delta has adopted the Codesys automation suite and integrated it into its DIAStudio environment to create a new tool, called DIADesigner-AX, that offers:
standard programming using all of the IEC61131-3 languages for PLC programming, and PLCopen for motion control programming;
built-in commissioning tools such as a digital oscilloscope, data monitoring and diagnostics;
• a simulation mode to test PLC and motion programs without needing physical target devices;
planning and execution of both simple and complex applications for motion control, including single-axis and multi-axis motion in accordance with PLCopen;
• a built-in graphical interface for creating electronic cams; and
planning and execution of CNC and robotics applications.

DIADesigner-AX keeps Codesys’ project tree structure – PLC programming, task configuration, hardware configuration and other functions can all be accessed in the same environment, cutting learning times, and helping users to develop motion control projects quickly. The software also includes special graphical tools for hardware, network and axis configuration.

Electronic cams can be designed using the built-in graphical editor, or created and modified in the PLC program.

A CNC+Robotics package extends the operating range of AX-8 series, with a DIN66025 G-code interpreter offering the ability to interpolate axes. Together with functions such as tool length and tool radius compensation, it allows users to create CNC applications.

Built-in kinematic transformations for Scara, Cartesian, tripod and other robot structures avoids the need for dedicated robot controllers. Robots, servodrives, inverters, I/O modules and other machine devices can be controlled in the same project.

Delta’s AX-8 PC packs PLC, motion control and other functions into a small, fan-less box

The AX-8 series supports a wide range of fieldbus technologies and communication protocols, including EtherCat, Modbus TCP/RTU and Ethernet/IP. An OPC UA server connected to the PLC program allows users to browse, read and write variables. It provides a secure way to exchange data with other devices, as well as databases, MES and ERP systems.

A new tool, called DIAScreen, simplifies PLC-HMI tag sharing. Users select the PLC variables to share, and they become accessible in the HMI platform. There’s no need to consider variable addresses.

The PCs also include HMI runtime. An HMI application developed in DIAScreen can be downloaded to the AX-8 on top of the operating system. Connecting touchscreen or standard monitors via the HDMI port, allows the PC to control PLC, motion and HMI functions. Advanced users can develop HMI applications in high-level languages.

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